Published: May 25, 2004
“It is an honor to have sold Charles Willson Peale’s magnificent portrait of George Washington and to have achieved with this iconic work a world auction record for any American portrait,” stated Eric Widing, senior vice president and head of Christie’s American paintings department.
The auction, which took place Tuesday, May 18, offered 152 lots, of which 115 sold for an 88 percent sales rate and a gross of $26,122,243 realized.
The top lot of the auction came as Peale’s rendition of the Father of Our Country was offered. The portrait, estimated at $2.5 to $4 million, depicted Washington as the Commander of the Continental Army after the triumph at Yorktown. The Commander, dressed in a blue uniform, was standing aside a the barrel of a cannon with a cavalry man and horse in the background and the blue field of a 13-star flag flying above his left shoulder.
Bidding on the lot was brisk with it selling to a private American buyer well above estimates at $6,167,500, establishing not only a record for Peale but also for an American portrait.
“It [was] a great pleasure to bring the painting home to American. For over 220 years, the work has been in France in the collection of descendants of the original owner, the Marquis de Chastelleux, a friend and comrade in arms of Washington,” stated Widing.
Other top lots included a Winslow Homer painting, “Farmer with a Pitchfork,” circa 1874, that more than doubled estimates at $2,359,500; Maurice Prendergast’s “Courtyard, West Library, Boston,” sold to Adelson Galleries for $2,135,500; and a Martin Johnson Head oil went out at the high estimate at $959,500.
Other notable works included a John Frederick Kensett “View of Mount Washington” selling at $847,500, Childe Hassam’s “Rainy Day,” which brought $701,900, and an Edward Willis Redfield painting entitled “Snow Storm, Lambertville,” that more than doubled estimates at $634,700.
Prices include the buyer’s premium charged.
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